Picture Courtesy of Leon Cooper

Riding the river! Its a day that always deserves an exclamation point. On horseback, there's a leisurely pace that lets you examine every wildflower, every rock. The views, the joy of being outdoors, the peace and solitude far from pressures and stress, all add up to dozens of reasons why Searcy County resident Leon Cooper always adds to his goodbyes, "Have a good day. I will!" Come along with him as he shares a little about a typical day of horseback riding in the Buffalo River country.

Helen called, Elaine and Helen want to ride, Wednesday. It rained Tuesday night and the biggest part of Wednesday. That made the ride Thursday. It was too wet to cut hay, so Jim will get to go.

Helen's horse had gotten a snake bite. The doctor said it would be two months before she could ride it. I told her, I would bring Duo for her to ride. The time was set, 8:00AM at Harps', Thursday morning. When Helen got there she threw her saddle in my truck and Jim and Elaine followed. We went to County Road 241, unloaded and took off. There will be no crossing the river today. The Park has stopped all canoes and floats for now. Off down the road we go. All trying to talk at the same time. Soon we come to Calf Creek and it is running good, but crossable. I tell Helen, I will go first. Riding the tallest horse. I had to pull my feet up, but it wasn't bad. On we go and here is the old Arnold Cemetery. It has a fence around it now. The ride from 65 Bridge to Woolum is the most beautiful ride on the river, I think.

Here is Peter Cave Bluff Lookout and it is the picture on the map for the lower half of the river. We stop and get off. I get the digital camera and after two pictures, it says it is full. I had not deleted the other pictures from last time. I will have to come back another day. We see upper Red Bluff, Blue Bluff and Love Hensley Bluff. On we go and soon we are at the Tie Slide. I cannot see much from here now. The leaves have it blocked out. We go back into the woods on a trail. We get a few peeks at the river and on around the mountain and down. There is a little stream of water running and I have to cut two small trees. They were bent across the trail. Helen keeps asking about a bluff and I keep telling her, not yet. Ha ha We get there and get off. It has a finger sticking out and you can walk out and look. It is about three feet wide. Back on the horses and upward. We are now on top of Whisnant Bluff. It has a place like a bench to sit on here. When it is close to lunchtime I like to eat here.

Not today, it is 10:45 AM, I can see Margaret White Bluff and it looks a long way off. That is where we plan to eat. I can see Hickmans field and it sure is green. On we go riding along Slay Branch. We hit a County Road and the horses are gating. I keep asking Helen if Duo is doing all right. She says yes. When we get to Margaret White, the water is so high. There is no gravel bar to eat on. We double back and eat in the road. What's the difference we did not see a automobile all day. This is kinda a circle ride. It is a road ride all the way back. We keep telling each other, it was a great ride and it was.

We get the horses loaded and trucks turned around and head for town. I turn the air conditioner on. Ha ha ha We get to Harps and I tell Helen bye. We both say, "enjoyed it." She is the best person to ride with, bar none. I just can't remember it all and the words do not make it as beautiful as it is. The river was not as red today as it was when I was at the Tea Tables. The little frowers I see and a tree, broke off half-way up. The mark on a rock where a horse shoe slipped. Hundreds of other things.

Leon Cooper


As I Ride Along

As I ride along, I can hear Mother Nature's Song.

I hear the birds chirp their little song. I hear the water running along

down the stream; Over the little falls and all.

The Quail batting their little wings as they fly fast to get away. I see a Eagle swoop to get its pray. The fish that almost got away.

I see the squirrel running, with the long shaggy tail. A little ground squirrel on a special day.

The squeak of the saddle, the horse's hoof, Sometimes it seems to say "hollow ground," be careful today.

On the rock, the horse shoe makes a terrible scratching sound. On the pavement it is clippie-clop, In the water it is splashing a lot,

At night it hits a flint rock and kicks off a little spark, It sure lights up the dark. 

The flowers all smell so very nice today. The witch hazel, Helen was trying to show me that day All this I see as I ride on my merry way. I wonder what Helen is trying to say.

I went to the Snowball Horse sale. I was a little late getting there. It was going full blast when I walked in. I waved at a couple of people, that I knew. I bought two saddles. I needed them anyway. The sale was still going strong when I left. Joy and Russ showed up and they want to ride Monday. They said a little short ride. I said okay and I will meet them a 65 Bridge, 8:00 AM, and I will have to hurry. It will be cooler riding early in the morning hours.

Leon Cooper